Government authorities and shipping industry insiders are increasingly concerned that maritime piracy will rise globally as huge, commercial fishing firms—especially the ones that operate illegally—drive fishermen from poor countries out of business.

Local fishermen who have plied their trade for generations in Latin America, Africa, Asia and even Northern Europe increasingly find their livelihood threatened by commercial fishing operations whose scale and more advanced vessels are just too much to compete against.

Though it's impossible to quantify how many pirates were once fishermen, experts agree that many small fishermen have turned to stealing from big merchant ships as their fisheries have been wiped out.

"When people don't have any way of feeding their families by fishing, they don't have many options," meaning some will turn to maritime crime, said Lisa Speer, director of the international oceans program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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